Uggams in early 1960's
May 25, 1943 |
New York City, New York, U.S.
Grahame Pratt (1965-present)children Danielle Chambers, actress and Justice Pratt, actor
|Awards||Theatre World Award
1967 Hallelujah, Baby!
TV Land Anniversary Award
Leslie Uggams (born May 25, 1943, New York City) is an American actress and singer, perhaps best known for her work in Hallelujah, Baby! and the miniseries Roots. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
Uggams was born in New York City. Her father was a singer with the Hall Johnson choir and her mother was a dancer. She attended the Professional Children's School of New York and Juilliard. She met her husband, Grahame Pratt while she was performing in Sydney, Australia; they married in 1965. After their marriage, the couple decided to reside in New York, in part to avoid Australia's racial segregation laws of that time.
Uggams started in show business as a child in 1950, playing the niece of Ethel Waters on Beulah. Uggams made her singing debut on the Lawrence Welk Show and was a regular on Sing Along with Mitch, starring record producer-conductor Mitch Miller. In 1960, she sang, off-screen, "Give Me That Old Time Religion" in the film Inherit the Wind. Uggams came to be recognized by TV audiences as an upcoming teen talent in 1954 on the NBC/CBS hit musical quiz show series Name That Tune (1953-9), along with child hitmaker Eddie Hodges.
Her records "One More Sunrise"(an English-language cover of Ivo Robic's "Morgen", 1959) and "House Built On Sand" made Billboard magazine's charts.
Television and Film
She appeared in her own television variety show, The Leslie Uggams Show in 1969. This was the "first network variety show to feature an African-American host since the mid-1950s Nat "King" Cole Show." She had a lead role in the 1977 miniseries Roots, for which she received an Emmy nomination, as Kizzy. She also made guest appearances on such television programs as Hollywood Squares, Fantasy, The Muppet Show, and Magnum, P.I..
Uggams starred in the 1975 film Poor Pretty Eddie, in which she played a popular singer who, upon being stranded in the deep South, is abused and humiliated by the perverse denizens of a backwoods town.
Uggams was picked to star in Hallelujah, Baby! after Lena Horne declined the role of Georgina. The musical premiered on Broadway in 1967 and "created a new star" in Uggams. She won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a musical (in a tie with Patricia Routledge).
Uggams replaced Patti LuPone as Reno Sweeney in the Lincoln Center revival of Cole Porter's musical Anything Goes on Broadway in March 1989. She had played Reno in a US tour in 1988-1989. Later Broadway roles include Muzzy in Thoroughly Modern Millie (2003 - 2004) and Ethel Thayer in On Golden Pond at the Kennedy Center in 2004 and on Broadway at the Cort Theatre in 2005. She will again play Muzzy in The Muny production of Thoroughly Modern Millie in June 2012.
In June 2012, Uggams played Muzzy in a production of "Thorougly Modern Millie" at the Muny in Saint Louis, Missouri.
- "Leslie Uggams Biography" allmusic.com, accessed March 5, 2012
- Uggams, Leslie; Curnow, Hugh (May 1967). "Why I Married an Australian: Young singer tells of her marriage across color line". Ebony 22 (7): 140–142, 144–149.
- "The Leslie Uggams Show" museum.tv, accessed March 4, 2012
- "Roots" museum.tv, accessed March 4, 2012
- " 'Poor Pretty Eddie' Synopsis" tcm.com, accessed March 4, 2012
- Siegel, Naomi. "Theater Review; Of Its Moment: 1967" The New York Times, October 24, 2004
- "Tony AWards, 1968" broadwayworld.com, accessed March 5, 2012
- Rich, Frank. "Theater: 'Jerry's Girls,' A Musical Entertainment" The New York Times, December 19, 1985
- Nemy, Enid. "On Stage" The New York Times, March 17, 1989
- Jones, Kenneth. "James Earl Jones and Leslie Uggams Open in 'On Golden Pond' Oct. 2" playbill.com, October 2, 2004
- Jones, Kenneth. "Jones and Uggams Face Facts of Family Life in Broadway Return of 'On Golden Pond' " playbill.com, April 7, 2005
- "Press Release, Thoroughly Modern Millie " muny2.org, accessed March 4, 2012
- Brantley, Ben. "Theater Review: The Agonized Arias Of Everyman In Poverty and Pain" The New York Times, May 2, 2001
- "Tony Award, 2001" broadwayworld.com, accessed March 5, 2012
- Jones, Kenneth. Stormy Weather, Musical of Horne's Life, Starring Uggams, Begins West Coast Premiere" playbill.com, January 21, 2009
- Official Web Site
- Leslie Uggams at the Internet Broadway Database
- Leslie Uggams at the Internet Movie Database
- Leslie Uggams at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Leslie Uggams - Downstage Center interview at American Theatre Wing.org